Chelsea FC names former Liverpool boss Purslow as first commercial chief

Chelsea FC has hired former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow as its first commercial director in a bid to carve out more sustainable revenue streams against a backdrop of financial fair play compliance.

Purslow will run the club’s commercial activities worldwide, assuming responsibility for its existing tie-ups with the likes of Adidas, Audi and Samsung. His first priority will be to finalise a deal for the club’s shirt sponsor next season, with Turkish Airlines reportedly poised to replace Samsung.

He is tasked with building what Chelsea claim will be the Premier League’s “most pioneering global commercial programme”, partnering with “innovative and market-leading organisations” worldwide.

The newly created role signals a shift for the Premier League leader’s approach to sponsorships. Unlike other top European clubs, Chelsea’s commercial earnings are hampered by a smaller stadium, which has contributed to a decline in revenue in recent years.

The west London outfit saw revenue fall to €303.4m in the 2012/2013 season from the previous year’s €322.6m, according to the Deloitte Money League. The slump is likely to have continued into the 2013/14 season when its sponsorship activity was limited and more geared toward signing smaller, less lucrative regional deals.

Despite the lack of sponsorship activity, Chelsea was declared compliant with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules earlier this year. However, its strategy of selling fringe players for huge transfer fees to balance the books will only last so long and a dedicated commercial lead will help it create a new model.

Purslow’s charge to secure new deals will be challenged by the aggressive advances of Chelsea’s Premier League rivals. His previous club Liverpool set up an office in London last month to secure more international deals, while Arsenal’s coffers continue to swell due to their advanced ecrm offering.

Meanwhile, Manchester Utd is looking into a number of alternatives such as friendlies in emerging markets to replace the revenues it would have earned from being in the Champions League.

During his time at Liverpool, Purslow helped sell the Merseyside club to current owners Fenway Sports in 2010 before stepping down from his managing director role a year later.

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